A couple of years ago, when the kids were old enough to handle staying up past 9pm, I discovered First Fridays at the Science Center! Every first Friday of the month the Science Center has theme nights and, depending on the theme, this could be a chance for you and your family to geek out!
In the past they have had Indiana Jones, Goonies, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and of course our favorite Harry Potter to name a few. These nights come with a disclaimer that they are not necessarily family friendly, but I’ve found that disclaimer unnecessary if you keep a few things in mind: Know there will be adult beverages served on the premises and know the content of any movies you might want to take your child to. We’ve never watched the featured IMAX movie there, because they usually don’t start until 10pm and are too scary for the kids. However, we have often caught the 9pm side movies they’ve shown at the Planetarium. For the Indiana Jones night, they showed Young Indiana Jones, which my kids loved. If you want tickets to the 9pm show, or have left the kids behind to geek out on your own, I would recommend arriving around 6pm to get first-come, first-serve free tickets!
If you want to be more active, there are plenty of other activities to check out, many of which are STEAM related. For the Indiana Jones night, they had a makers’ space area replete with my children’s dream of unlimited cardboard, duct tape, and hot glue guns. My youngest made a mini Indiana Jones and my oldest made his hat. For the Harry Potter night, they had a live chemistry “magic” demonstration making different colored fire. One year, the Science Center teamed up with the World Bird Sanctuary and had wide variety of owls on site! Every first Friday there are vendors with theme-specific merchandise in a variety of price ranges and game nights with board games aplenty. The event often also has a semblance of a mini Halloween, with grown adults and children dressed up in theme. A good example of this was the anime night, which was fun for people watching alone!
My oldest once told me “It’s not fun if there’s not food involved”. So it helps that there are themed menus most first Friday’s as well. We love our Butterbeer and a chocolate frog or two doesn’t hurt either! Since everything else about this event is free, you won’t feel guilty about the $3 drinks.
One of the reasons I started going to First Fridays in the first place is the outside telescope viewing. You can watch an early Live Sky show at the Planetarium, where an expert in the field projects the current night sky on the ceiling and walks you through the constellations along with specific stars and planets that might be visible. Then around 8pm, you can go outside where volunteers with high powered telescopes will be available to help you find even more!
Depending on what your family geeks out about, you can easily find a First Friday or two throughout the year to go share your geekdom with other families and learn a few things while you are at it!